Remembering Ilse Goldberg, Mississippi’s last Holocaust survivor

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Ilse Goldberg, considered to be Mississippi’s last Holocaust survivor, died on April 4 in Greenwood.

Born in Reichenbach, Germany, she moved to Breslau at age nine. Soon after, Nazi restrictions on Jews were introduced in the region. In November 1938, the Nazis came to their home and took everything. The next morning, she awoke to Kristallnacht.

The day after Kristallnacht, her father was arrested and spent five weeks at Buchenwald. He was released because he had his discharge papers with him from when he fought for Germany in World War I. Still, he had to check in with the Gestapo every day.

The family was able to secure passage to Shanghai, where they were in a refugee camp. Roughly 20,000 European Jews escaped to Shanghai until Japan, which occupied the region in 1941, closed the area to further immigration and increased restrictions on the Jewish Ghetto. Goldberg enrolled in the American School, then after she graduated was hired by the American Joint Distribution Committee to teach homeless and underprivileged children.

In 1947, they were able to immigrate to the United States, thanks to a cousin in Memphis that they had never met. She started working for a film distributor, then met Greenwood native Ervin Goldberg. She moved to Greenwood in 1950 when they were married, becoming an integral part of Goldberg’s, a shoe store founded in 1921 by Morris Goldberg.

She is survived by her son, Michael Goldberg and his wife Gail M. Goldberg, and her son, Jerome Goldberg and his wife Jane Goldberg; and grandchildren, Dr. Richard Goldberg and his wife Rachel, Scott Goldberg and his wife Annie, Eric Goldberg and his wife Cassidy, and Erin Goldberg Bryant and her husband Baylor. She is also survived by 5 great-grandchildren, Walker, Jack, Madison, Emory, and Pierce Goldberg.

Services were held on April 10 at Ahavath Rayim in Greenwood, officiated by Rabbi Micah Greenstein, with a special blessing by Brother Jim Phillips.

Gilbert Metz, the state’s last survivor of the concentration camps, died in 2007 in Jackson.